Acclimating to Law School

Law Student Advice

The first few weeks of school are usually filled with awe and confusion, but don't panic! Apply proper time management techniques and continue to press on. Your predecessors at UNH Law, and every other law school in the country, have encountered the same self-doubts and questions.

Here are some of the answers to commonly asked questions, but the most meaningful answers can only come by experience.

Q: Will the first semester of law school be tough?

A: Yes, but so was your first time riding a bicycle, your first semester of college, your first day on the job, or your first several months with a new baby. Let's face it, new experiences frighten most people. Be confident and be prepared to work.

Q: Just how much work will I need to do?

A: There will be plenty of reading: 220 to 280 pages per week (some of it will need to be read at least twice). Most of the assigned readings are cases, and the most effective method of understanding these cases is to take notes as you read them (briefing). Briefing is time consuming but will help you better understand the material. Commercial study aids, such as case notes, bar review guides, and outlines are effective shortcuts and may save you time, but they cannot substitute for reading, studying, and preparing the course material. To do anything less than that is to shortchange yourself. Second- and third-year students can, and probably will, recommend various study aids. They may help, but beware that becoming dependent on them may be hazardous to your law school career.

Q: Are there any special study methods I should know about?

A: Chances are you will study the same way you did while in college, for better or for worse, since old habits die hard. But you will find that making an outline of your classes and updating it on a weekly basis is very helpful come finals time. A personal outline, if done in a thorough manner, will definitely be superior to a commercial outline because of the fact that you created it and it stresses the priorities of your instructor.

Q: How much lecture time is there per week?

A: There are 15 hours of lecture in the classroom, plus weekly TA sessions. The general rule is to spend two hours studying for each hour of class time. Remember: Don't skip lectures!

Q: Do people work during the semester?

A: Yes. UNH Law's rule on student employment is a maximum of 5 hours for 1Ls and 20 hours per week for 2Ls and 3Ls. Since your mornings and early afternoons are spent at school, finding a job with flexible hours will be a plus. However, the first semester demands much study time and working may detract from this. UNH Law recommends that 1Ls not hold a job at all during the first year. International students cannot work off-campus on an F-1 visa.

Q: Is there parking available at the Law Center?

A: UNH Law allows students, faculty, and staff to park in designated school owned lots between the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m., providing they have a valid parking permit. Parking permits are issued by the Registrar’s Office at the beginning of each academic year. Vehicles parked in UNH Law lots that do not display the required permit are subject to towing at the vehicle owner’s expense.

Students, faculty, and staff choosing not to purchase a permit will continue to be able to park in the usual on-street spaces, as allowed by the City of Concord. Please obey all city parking signs. Please see the parking policy and FAQ page for detailed parking information.

Q: Is there a dress code?

A: Classes at UNH Law are generally casual; however, there are other occasions outside of the classroom that demand business or more formal attire.

Law School – A Partner's Perspective

Nine months ago, as my partner and I moved into our new apartment, both of us were full of uncertainty. How hard would law school be? How often would we see each other? Were the rumors true? I would like to share some of the enlightenment I have received over the past year living with a 1L.

Rumor One: Law school is impossible.
Fact: My partner spent hours reading, briefing cases, computing, researching and all the other things that go with law school. While it is difficult to say whether it was as we had imagined, there were plenty of trying times. My partner spent many long nights in the library rummaging through crusty old law books, leaving me alone. As this lifestyle became the norm, the pressure on our relationship increased. I tried to be patient and encouraging, especially during finals.

Instinctively, I learned to recognize the stare on my partner's face that told me, "I didn't hear anything you just said." While everyone had a different way of dealing with this problem, I just went about my business and looked for better days ahead. I knew better days were coming. I could see them on the calendar; they were the days after large assignments were due and after exams were over.

Rumor Two: Only your partner experiences law school.
Fact: The time and work involved put undue pressure on our relationship. There is a whole new language that will become second nature to one of you and tolerated by the other. However, working together toward the common goal of a J.D. gave both of us a sense of achievement. The night my partner stood before a simulated court, passionately arguing a point of law with a bank of judges, I was amazed as I watched the metamorphosis from student to attorney. The pride that my partner and I shared somehow smoothed the rough spots of the past few months.

Rumor Three: You will bear the burden of all the things that your partner no longer has time to do.
Fact: I assumed more responsibility for housework than I wanted – responsibility for everything that did not directly pertain to UNH Law: laundry, bills, pets, car maintenance, grocery shopping, etc. We could no longer share responsibilities as we had done before law school. While I was single-handedly navigating grocery store checkout lines or folding our clothes at the public laundromat with the whole world watching me, I tried to remember that my partner wasn't having a party at home, either.

Rumor Four: There will be no time for recreation.
Fact: Although time has been at a premium, setting aside time to take a break from law school was one of our top priorities. My partner and I always made time for recreation. Sometimes we scheduled a quick fitness workout at the local YMCA or a quiet walk by the beautiful old homes of Concord. Other times, we took advantage of a long weekend and enjoyed New England. A short trip to Boston, the beach, or a day on the slopes was always a well-deserved cap on an intense week of work.